To the Wesleyan community,
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and safe 2021!
Many of us are feeling optimistic at the start of this new year with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign underway. Research and development as well as production of vaccines has occurred at an extremely fast pace, and two vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna have received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It seems likely that other vaccines may be approved soon. The vaccine roll-out has hit some stumbling blocks, with variation across states in the criteria and systems being used to deliver the vaccines.
With that being said, 2021 has also certainly started with COVID-19 challenges. We have seen increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations across the country and in the state of Connecticut. As I write this, the positivity rate in Connecticut approaches 11 percent—the highest we have seen since the onset of the pandemic. In addition, variants, or mutant strains, of the SARS CoV-2 virus appear to be significantly more transmissible, contributing to greater spread of the virus, though thankfully not a more severe illness. Post-holiday surges resulting from travel and gatherings in late December may continue to increase the already-high positivity rates over the next several weeks. And cold weather is keeping most of us indoors, where there is a higher risk of the virus spreading. Meanwhile, recent reports show that more than half of COVID cases were contracted from a person who was either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, reinforcing that we can never let our guard down with SARS CoV-2 around. Thankfully, reduced travel and COVID prevention measures seem to be contributing to a very light flu season thus far, which is important as the confluence of a bad flu outbreak and COVID-19 could rapidly overwhelm our already-taxed health care systems.